Has anyone had the chance to see the documentary Bully? I saw it over the weekend and wrote up my thoughts to it (excerpt below), but I'd be curious to hear other reactions.
I was sitting on the subway in New York last week, reading my book, pretty much in my own world, and trying to ignore the bodies that were pressed up on me from all sides, when I noticed a pale little red-headed boy, probably around eight or nine years old, sitting across from me, looking scared, and crouched up close to his mother, who had her arm around him. Neither of them were talking. Near him were two other kids, maybe eleven or twelve, who were being noisy. I didn't really give the scene much thought.
When my stop came, the boy and his mother also got off. They were walking ahead of me on the platform, and the boy looked back with a terrified expression on his face, so I looked back too. That's when I realized that the boy was being bullied, in front of his mother, during that fifteen minute train ride, by those noisy kids. As we were getting off the train, those kids were still on the subway, but they were hanging out of the train doors, taunting the boy, yelling things like, "what you gonna do little white boy," "you're so ugly and skinny, I could kick your a$$," "your mamma can't protect you," etc. Then the doors slammed shut. The boy and his mom were out of sight. And it was all over.
That boy was on my mind when I went this weekend to go see the critically acclaimed documentaryBully, which was released in a limited number of theaters last week. The movie, like the subway scene, was tough to watch. Weaving the stories of five bullied children into one another, the film is relentless in depicting senseless child-on-child cruelty, the suicides that can result from it, and the heartbroken parents who are helpless to do anything about it. Bully is a damning indictment of the adults--particularly school officials--in these children's lives, who are absolutely clueless and inept in handling bullying and, in the case of a girl named Kelby, even complicit in it.
Kelby, a sixteen-year-old lesbian living in Tuttle, Oklahoma, is one of the five youth depicted in the film. In one scene, she explains that she was sitting in class when her teacher called roll by sex. The teacher first called the girls' names. Then she called the boys' names. Then she called Kelby's name, which elicited the laughter of the students in the class. A few minutes earlier, when Kelby came into the classroom and sat at a desk, the students sitting directly next to her ostentatiously got up and moved seats.
You can read the rest here.